An Early Sports Watch
Introduced in 1931, the Reverso was born out of functional necessity. Its purpose stemmed from a common complaint by British officers stationed in India, often disgruntled by the damaging of their wristwatch glass during polo matches. Swiss businessman and brand associate of the time, César de Trey, conveyed this message to his supplier Jacques-David LeCoultre, bringing about a solution in the form of a wristwatch with a swivelling face, allowing the case to be "reversed" in order to protect the glass. It was actively promoted “pour les heures d’activité physique”, and is unofficially classified as one of the first sports watches.
The Reverso's innovative design was created with the help of René-Alfred Chauvot, then a French engineer at LeCoultre. The original "flipping" mechanism consisted of nearly 30 parts, whilst modern Reverso mechanisms can contain up to 50 parts. This is made up of three primary components: the case structure where the spring-mounted spurs rest, the pivots that allow the watch to rotate 180 degrees, and the spheres, which provide a satisfying click when the watch is locked into place. Throughout history, the Reverso has been worn by a range of distinctive individuals, from King Edward VIII to Amelia Earhart.
The "Rouge" Edition
Fast forward to 2011, the Grande Reverso 1931 "Rouge" was inspired by a highly collectable, red enamel dial variation from the 1930s. The watch was revealed at the new Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique in Milan when it opened. The red dial version had enjoyed universal acclaim amongst collectors and brand enthusiasts before manufacturing ceased in 2015.
This Grande Reverso 1931 is sized at a contemporary 46.8mm x 27.4mm and has a distinctive, stepped, rectangular case. The iconic reversible housing features angular, straight lugs and is polished throughout. The case back is brushed and displays the manufacture's signature, along with "REVERSO", "Edition Spéciale Rouge" and its unique reference numbers.
The "Rouge" lacquer dial is a vibrant crimson red and has a fluid glossy finish. The applied, rhodium-plated, polished struck hour-markers complement the dial tone, coordinating perfectly with the traditional baton handset. Rather surprisingly, the dial merely features the "Reverso" signature, without any mention of the brand, a nod to the earliest Reverso pieces which carried this unobtrusive and discrete signature.
This Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is powered by the 21-jewel Cal. 822 manual-winding movement, beating at a rate of 21,600 A/h, boasting a power reserve of up to 45 hours. It has a KIF shock-protection system protecting the 2.94 mm form mechanism, equivalent to that of Incabloc. The reliability of the Cal. 822 is considered comparable with the Cal. 89, the tried and tested calibre manufactured between the 1940’s-70’s, famed for its horological contribution.
Redefining the Reverso
The Reverso was somewhat of a utilitarian solution to a practical problem, but has since reinvented itself into a contemporary dress watch, fully retaining its identity. Throughout its 86 year production run, the dial has often proved the canvas on which Jaeger-LeCoultre have experimented and redefined itself. The 'Rouge' Edition encapsulates this in the best possible way.
This Grand Reverso 1931 "Rouge" Edition is accompanied by its original inner and outer boxes, Certificate of Origin, Guarantee Certificate and Instruction Booklets. The watch is fitted on our Venice II boxed grey saffiano strap and is accompanied by both the original steel JLC tang buckle and Jaeger-LeCoultre black alligator strap.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.